Verraki Partners, has called on the Nigerian government, working in collaboration with the private sector, to develop a national technology agenda.
This, the firm said, would help improve the country’s competitiveness in the global economy.
Speaking at the recently concluded 25th Nigeria Economic Summit, Senior Manager for Technology Application Services at Verraki, Mr. Olatunde Olajide, advocated the need for Nigeria to overturn its perceived unwelcome stereotype and emulate countries like Israel, China, Singapore and South Korea that have all articulated and implemented a national agenda which has in turn helped them to create specific niches, improve their reputation while fostering economic growth.
According to him, although Nigeria boasts of Africa’s largest young population, bursting with entrepreneurial energy, tremendous resolve, resilience and creativity, the nation was yet to articulate a holistic agenda as a counter-narrative to the damaging reports of fraud, corruption and unemployment.
He asserted that such biased perspective has a negative impact on the country’s perception, creating a drawback to its ability to attract new investment and ultimately our future economic potential.
In pressing for a national ICT agenda, Olajide said: “Following its release of an Artificial Intelligence Development Plan, China outlined AI as a national priority, expressed its commitment to building a domestic AI industry worth US$150 billion and leading AI globally by 2030. China has already introduced AI pilot programmes in hundreds of schools and training teachers to implement the new curricula throughout the country. Nigeria must define what its strategic ICT agenda is, in the global economy and work towards this.”
He added: “There is a lot Nigeria can do in a global economy; Nigeria is home to the leading hubs for entrepreneurship on the continent thanks to several strengths, including our resilient entrepreneurs, a growing number of engaging international investors, a huge population with increasing access to technology, a growing number of startup support organizations active in the ecosystem, over 84 million hectares of arable land with less than half cultivated for agriculture production, our creative industries especially music and Nollywood, a booming billion dollar film industry. We must harness these strengths to determine how best we can play in the global economy.”
Olajide, also highlighted the importance of local content and skills in the country’s Information Technology (IT) agenda and encouraged local enterprises and governments to patronize companies with Research and Development, Product Development and Manufacturing operations in Nigeria to help in developing natonal technology competence. “China, South Korea, Japan’s competencies were not built in a day. People used scorned Asian (Japan, South Korea and China) cars some decades ago. The path to development is an iterative process and we must encourage our local players so they can improve. Given the low national literacy level of 66 per cent, we need to aggressively scale digital literacy training for teachers, students, and others while also establishing systems and structures for protection of contents and Internet Protocol (IP) rights of our inventors and entrepreneurs,” Olajide added.